When it comes to clean beauty, it's often products such as deodorant and moisturizer that get a lot of attention. It makes sense, given that those are products you're rubbing all over your skin daily. But you may want to consider rethinking your makeup, too — mascara included. After all, for many, it's a daily staple, no matter whether we're rocking a super dramatic or totally natural look, and it's applied near your eyes, one of the most sensitive areas of the body.
What makes a mascara "natural" or "clean," however, isn't cut and dry. There is no universal regulation nor criteria used across the natural beauty industry, which can make shopping for clean products especially tricky. Generally speaking, clean mascaras are free of many (if not all) of the chemicals found in traditional formulas. This includes everything from parabens and a petroleum-derivative known as polybutene to synthetic colors and 1,4-dioxane, an ingredient that makes lashes appear glossy. Standard tubes also contain tons of preservatives, including formaldehyde. The upshot of going clean? Not only are you exposing your body to fewer of these questionable chemicals, but the natural versions are also much less likely to irritate sensitive eyes or skin. (Related: What's the Difference Between Clean and Natural Beauty Products?)
When choosing a clean or natural mascara, it's important to do your due diligence and be a conscious consumer. More and more retailers have created their own definition of what it means to be clean and have their own "no" lists of banned ingredients. You can also look for external validation via third parties and seek out certifications such as USDA Organic or EcoCert.
The good news? There are a ton of great clean and natural mascaras out there that deliver all of the same lash-lengthening, curling, and volumizing benefits of their traditional counterparts. Keep scrolling for the 10 best natural mascaras that will give you a falsie-like effect without the yucky chemicals. (Related: Why You Should Consider Buying Clean Beauty Products)
The unique brush accompanying this natural mascara (the brand tested more than 100 different designs) touts curled, short bristles on one side and long, straight ones on the other. The former is great for adding mega-volume, while the latter combs through each and every hair for tons of length. Try using the lengthening side, followed by the volumizing. No matter how you swipe, you'll note the buildable formula doesn't clump and stays put all day without smudges. (Plus, this pick is even Camila Mendes-approved.)
For full, fluttery, fluffy lashes, this baby is the choice. An arch-shaped brush with spiral bristles packs plenty of the volumizing formula onto every lash from root to tip. As if that weren't enough, the aptly-named mascara also contains good-for-your lashes ingredients — such as growth-boosting castor oil, a strengthening peptide — to ensure your fringe not only looks good but is strong and healthy, too. Pro tip: Wipe off excess on a tissue before applying.
For those who want their natural mascara to also look natural, this tube is the winner. It lengthens, volumizes, and lifts in one fell swipe, and touts natural ingredients such as moisturizing olive oil and plant-based waxes for a flexible hold. The extra rich black pigment is also a major plus. One coat leaves lashes perfectly enhanced and defined, though you can easily add more if you want a more dramatic effect.
There are good reasons why this clean mascara OG is a cult-favorite. Jojoba seed and castor oils in the formula condition lashes, while the specially-designed, slightly spiky, stiff wand combs through lashes to add plenty of length and also ward off clumps. Another bonus? The tube is refillable, a major win since you should be replacing your mascara every three months. (Psst, here's how to extend the lifespan of your makeup.)
As a general rule of thumb, clean beauty products (at least, legitimately clean options) aren't particularly cheap, making this pick all the more noteworthy. The price is great in and of itself, but even more so when you consider the fact that this buy comes with both mascara and primer in one convenient tube. The pairing makes for lots of (clump-free) length and definition, and the formula is free of parabens, paraffins, silicones, mineral oil, and synthetic fragrances. (Related: Kristen Bell Says This Vegan Mascara Lengthens Lashes Without ‘Nasty Ingredients’)
Finding a waterproof, natural formula is tricky, but this option is easily the next best thing. The 100 percent vegan and cruelty-free mascara isn't totally waterproof, but it is long-lasting and water-resistant; some happy Amazon reviewers even say it stays on through a dip in the pool or the ocean. Plus, it contains coconut oil, vitamin B, and kelp extract to hydrate, soften, and condition delicate lashes.
If you've never thought beyond basic black mascara, you should. Unexpected hues — such as navy and violet — are a fun way to add a subtle pop of color to any eye look. Happily, this option comes in all three of those shades, along with a very natural-looking brown. As the name suggests, all of the colors come from natural pigments rather than artificial dyes, and the formula is also free of petrochemicals. (Related: This $20 Beauty Hack Will Give You the Lashes of Your Dreams)
Taking eco-friendly to a whole new level, not only are the ingredients in this natural mascara totally clean, but it's actually made using sustainable energy — how cool is that? You can easily swipe on one, two, even three coats without ever having to worry about clumps or smears (the more layers you add, the more dramatic the volumizing effect). Credit a unique rubber brush that separates lashes as it coats them with the formula. Also worth noting: This pick is EWG-verified, so you can feel confident that it's squeaky clean.
This Amazon favorite is made of 100 percent natural ingredients, 85 percent of which are certified organic (no easy feat in the makeup world). It both thickens and lengthens and is hypoallergenic — a great choice for those with sensitive eyes. Reviewers laud it for its staying power and smudge-free performance. (Related: Hilary Duff Says This Charitable Beauty Brand Makes the "Perfect" Mascara)
There aren't a ton of clean mascaras to be found at the drugstore yet (here's hoping), but this one is a good option. Despite the fact that it's called a volumizing mascara, it also delivers nice length and lift, making for a great all-around choice. Ingredients such as jojoba oil and beeswax are the stars of the show, with no petroleum, parabens, or fragrance in the mix. And in true drugstore fashion, this is the most affordable pick on this list.
Buy It: Burt's Bees 100% Natural Origin Volumizing Mascara, $13, amazon.com